FROM NIGGAS TO GODS
On the cover of 2005's Black History edition of the ROC, was an article entitled "Nigger….Nigga….is there a difference?" which dealt with the question, "what does 'Nigga' really mean?" The article challenged different uses of the word, provided definitions and word associations for the word that were extracted from the "Museum of Racist Memorabilia" website, and ended with the challenge:
"… remember the ones who suffered and those who were hung and beaten and "NIGGER" being the justification of why they deserved such treatment. When we do this, we may want to think twice about our use of the word. I mean, yea, some THINK we are stupid and some SAY we are ignorant…but let us never be thought of, or classify ourselves as "NIGGERS."
In reflecting on what to include in this Black History edition of the ROC, I pondered the question, "what does black history really mean?" Does this generation really care about the sacrifices that were made by our ancestors? Do we use the past as motivation to make our present positive and our future promising? What does black history mean, aside from a month?......and then I reflected again on the word nigga and its relation to our existence.
If "nigga" is not a person but a state of mind or a mentality, does the hip hop generation willfully assume the racial stereotype of black people? And if so, what does that mean as we prepare to "celebrate" black history?
In his book "From Niggas to Gods", through a collection of essays written as a message to Black Youth, the author Akil argues that black youth have been brainwashed and made to think of themselves, and to operate as, niggas.
Nigga, as defined by Akil, is a "self-destructive, uncivilized state of mind that leads to a state of existence", which by the way, he says is "the state of mind and existence in which some of us now live". He goes on to ask, "How did we get here? We have not always lived within this state of mind. We once lived within a state of mind that produced supreme black excellence and supreme black genius."
After reflecting on Akil's words and looking at where we are as young African Americans, I could not help but to ask myself the same question: how DID we get here? People sacrificed their lives so that we would be free from slavery and oppression, so that we could have a better existence, and because of that we are free. That is what we are celebrating this month - our freedom. So why don't we act like free people? I mean, we are free now, right???
Yes, we are free, in the sense that we are not being physically chained anymore. But the only reason there are no physical chains is because the chains have outlived their purpose. In other words, as Carter G. Woodson said: "when you teach a man to think, you don't have to worry about his actions, he will find his proper place and stay in it". In other words, there is no need to physically chain you if your mind is still in bondage.
Think about it. Nigga is not black or white. But although you cannot physically be a nigga, mentally – it is a possibility.
Truth of the matter is, we were created in the image of God, however, the sad reality is, we no longer exist on the level of gods and goddesses. We now exist on the level of "niggas". As Akil put it, "we have been psychologically, biologically, and therefore spiritually reduced from 'Gods to Niggas' ". And our existence as niggas now begs the question: What would Dr. King say if he were here now?
The Boondocks, a TV series based on the comic strip, produced an episode, "Return of the King", which aired on the eve of the Martin Luther King holiday, showed the character Huey (a 10-year old black radical), imagining Dr. King surviving his 1968 assassination and emerging from a coma 32 years later, in the year 2000. Huey convinces Dr. King to start a "political party" and to reach out to the public again. So they call a meeting, and used a local hip hop radio station for publicity, however, the radio station misrepresented the purpose of the meeting, which resulted in dozens of young blacks arriving at the church, believing the meeting to be a "party" in the sense of a festivity.
As Dr. King took the podium to speak, he witnessed young African Americans dancing explicitly, fighting each other, etc. They were so into it, they completely disregarded the fact that Dr. King was speaking. Dr. King was so disturbed by what his people had become he began to talk saying: "Excuse me......Brothers and sisters please" However, no one listened. They just kept on partying. So King, out of frustration that the current generation of black people was acting out the racial stereotype finally spoke saying:
"Will you ignorant niggas please shut the h*ll up! Is this it? This is what I got all those a**whoopings for? I had a dream once, it was the dream that little black boys and little black girls would drink from the river of prosperity-freed from the thirst of oppression, but lo' and behold some four decades later what have I found, but a bunch of triflin', shiftless, good for nothin niggas. And I know some of you don't want to hear me say that word. It is the ugliest word in the English language, but that's what I see now, niggas. And you don't want to be a nigga.
'Cause niggas are living contradictions, niggas are full of unfulfilled ambitions, niggas wax and wain, niggas love to complain, niggas love to hear themselves talk but hate to explain, niggas love being another man's judge and jury, niggas procrastinate until it's time to worry, niggas love to be late, niggas hate to hurry...Black Entertainment Television is the worst thing I have ever seen in my life.....Usher, Michael Jackson is not a genre of music....and now I'd like to talk about Soul Plane..."
And then King finishes up, as the he has the crowds full attention, by saying:
"I've seen what's around the corner and I've seen what's over the horizon, and I promise you, you niggas have nothing to celebrate…"
Many people spoke out against this episode of the Boondocks. In fact, Al Sharpton demanded the writer of the Boondocks (an African American) issue a public apology for insinuating that Dr. King would make such a speech, especially using the word "nigga".
On the one hand, I agree with Al Sharpton. However, I believe the Boondocks depicted a realistic expression of the frustration that I am sure Dr. King, and everyone else who fought for justice and equality for our people, would have if they witnessed for themselves "how we livin' ".
Think about it. How much of that speech describes yourself? Are you living up to the dream of Dr. King, Rosa Parks, Malcom X, our ancestors who were slaves, and all the people who died trying to fight for African Americans to have better lives? Or are you operating with a "nigga-mentality", not taking advantage of opportunities because it will take too much work? Complaining about your grades in school when you do not put forth any effort? Living with a "don't care" attitude about yourself and the people around you? If the Boondocks speech or any of the above questions have you feeling convicted in any way, then I have to ask, what are you celebrating this black history month?
As you think on that question, I would like to leave you with another challenge. I challenge those of you who are operating with a "nigga-mentality" to do something that shows that you recognize the efforts of those who have paved the way for you. If it is a commitment to do better in school, make it and stick to it. If it is a commitment to a better relationship with God, make it and keep working towards your goal.
In your quest to be "hip hop", understand that hip hop is a state of being; while nigga is a state of mind and in order to transition back from "Niggas to Gods" we have got to stop thinking like niggas cause AIN'T NO GOD IN THAT!!
**Transferred from my Myspace Blog**